The Futsal Education Gap
It's been a long time coming, but the futsal revolution is finally here. For years we've been looking around corners and telling you futsal was coming like a storm. We were right. It's been a slow-moving storm, but consistently gaining strength. The full force of the tempest is yet to come, but you can feel it coming. More kids are playing. More and better training programs are being offered. More futsal leagues are cropping up. Players and parents are quickly becoming more knowledgeable about the game and its benefits for developing more technically skilled players. All of this is due in large part to pioneering efforts of visionary coaches and clubs willing to bring the Futsal Vision to reality.
While this is good news, not all American futsal programs are on the right track. Some programs require their coaches to teach the technical and tactical fundamentals of the game and try to give some identity and style to their training and play. At some other programs, coaches simply throw a ball onto a hardwood basketball court and let the kids play 5v5. Often, there is no instruction on proper technique, strategy, set piece play, spatial awareness or game intelligence. Organization by systems of play is non-existent. Instead, we see players jamming their outdoor skills and tactics into an indoor game that is very different in terms of technique and tactics. "Let the game be the teacher" is the romanticized excuse given by such coaches, but its really a travesty and not an excuse at all. It really means, "Don't teach. Let the kids figure it out for themselves and don't correct them or guide them." We wouldn't tolerate a mathematics teacher who used such an approach, and we shouldn't tolerate when it comes to futsal.
However, it is entirely possible (and much more likely, in my view) that such coaches simply do not know how to teach the game. And that is because the one area where the futsal revolution in the U.S. is lagging dramatically is coach education. Futsal education for coaches in the U.S. is practically non-existent. We certainly commend United Soccer Coaches for their high quality Level 1 Futsal Diploma. Since it is offered as an online course, its a fantastic way for any coach to get a basic overview of the game, the rules and some basic exercises for training sessions. United Stated Youth Futsal has offered leveled coaching courses, like the National Level 3 Coaching Course held in San Diego in 2015, but similar courses are impossible to find nowadays. The San Diego course was taught by Keith Tozer, who runs WSG Futsal Club in Wisconsin and continues to offer coaching courses to clubs that are looking to host one. In short, futsal education in this country is fragmented, thin and sparse. We need more! Much more!
At Eagleclaw Futsal, all of our coaches are required to have at least the Level 1 Futsal Diploma from United Soccer Coaches. To provide more advanced tactical/technical education, we are working on a plan to bring an experienced coach/educator from Spain to Seattle to provide a deeper level of education for Eagleclaw coaches and coaches from other clubs as well. Perhaps one day we will have high level futsal coaching license courses and clinics in this country, like the one (below) that was held in my hometown last summer, put on by Spain's National Association of Futsal Coaches and sponsored by local futsal club, Torrejon Sala.
Until that time arrives, much of the education Eagleclaw provides its coaches will continue to come from deep dives into the modern Spanish methodology for futsal, supplemented by a few key Spanish books on the subject that we study and translate, such as:
Entrenamiento de Base En Futbol Sala, by Jesús Velasco Tejada
Futbol Sala: Manual de Preparacion Fisica, by Antonio Jesus Bores Cerezal
Inciacion Tactica al Futbol Sala, by Francisco Jesus Guerrero Caceres
Futbol Sala. Táctica Defensiva, by Antonio Jose García Molina & Antonio Luis Gallego
And of course, anything that Jose Antonio Valle publishes, we devour. His blog, Ejercicios De Futbol Sala is an amazing resource for the passionate futsal coach willing to take the the time parse it and understand it.
As a leading voice in Seattle for the Spanish style of football, we also believe the Spanish brand of futsal (futbol sala) has much to teach our youth players. In a series of posts to be published over the next few months, we'll try to bring you some basic information about the philosophies, game models, systems of play and training exercises that are in use in Spanish futsal clubs and academies. We aren't looking to become a national futsal education provider. We just want to provide a bit of education about the Spanish brand of futsal, and in some small way contribute to the growth of futsal in Seattle and the United States.